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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 01/ 9/2010

Remembering 'GUMBY' creator Art Clokey

By Michael Cavna


Before there were Wallace and Gromit, before "SNL's" Mr. Bill (or Eddie Murphy, for that matter), even before an entire island of misfit Christmas toys, there was Gumby, the green-slabbed godfather of Claymation.

And, of course, Pokey.

"Pokey" fittingly rhymed with Clokey, the man who created "that little green slab of clay" and his entire world. On Friday, Art Clokey died in Los Osos, Calif., at age 88, reports the Tribune in San Luis Obispo.

Clokey endured terrible tragedy in childhood -- his father was killed in an accident when his son was 9, and a stepfather's cruel ultimatum resulted in Clokey being sent to an orphanage -- so it's all the more poignant that Clokey shaped Gumby's head in tribute to his late father's "cowlick hairdo."

Gumby first rolled onto the air in the '50s, on TV's "Howdy Doody," after Clokey created "a 3 ½-minute film ... called 'Gumbasia' [his 1952 parody of Disney's 'Fantasia'], featuring abstract clay objects changing shapes to jazz music." In the '60s, Clokey was able to finance additional episodes of "Gumby." By the time Eddie Murphy was doing his cigar-chomping "I'm Gumby, dammit!" character in the early '80s, Gumby was nostalgically iconic, and that little green slab enjoyed a profitable pop-culture revival.

So in tribute, Comic Riffs says "thanks" for the inventiveness and creativity of Mr. Art Clokey. Thanks to him, Gumby is still a part of us.


By Michael Cavna  | January 9, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Animation  | Tags:  Art Clokey, Gumby and Pokey  
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Comments

I say a thank you to Mr. Clokey for all the joy his animated figures gave me in childhood. Gumby and Pokey as well as Davey and Goliath (other inventions) all added a richness as well as a bendyness to television. Clokey was said to enjoy the Eddie Murphy riff on Gumby-"Gumby can laugh at himself". The SNL skit led to a new Gumby series and Clokey finally made some serious money from Gumby. He deserved every penny.

Hail and farewell.

Posted by: elyrest | January 9, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

I loved his show as a very young child. It's one of the best memories I have of spending time with my parents. He's always been a hero of mine for making children happy.

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